Barcode Systems for Tool Tracking

Posted June 17, 2014

tool_controlDon’t be a Fool, Track your Tools…with Barcodes
By Andrew Springer

One of the main challenges many construction companies face today is tracking, managing and maintaining all of their valuable tools, supplies, and equipment. In an industry that relies so heavily on its equipment and materials, it is essential that companies use the best possible methods for tracking and managing their valuable resources. No longer can these companies afford to ignore the immediate and future benefits of investing in barcode-based inventory systems and asset tracking systems.

Asset System for Construction

There was a time when keeping track of which construction worker had what piece of equipment, at which location, and for how long, could be done by compiling information in a log sheet or even an Excel spreadsheet. That time has passed. In order to keep up with the complex demands of tracking constantly moving construction assets in real-time, and to collect the accompanied data, construction companies rely on asset tracking systems such as ASAP SystemsPassport tracking software. Alternatively, if business environments or the operational infrastructures require companies to track their assets in the cloud, then ASAP Systems’ BarCloud is a top performing online asset tracking system. The two systems are designed to handle the construction industry’s dynamic needs.

For example, Construction Company XYZ owns dozens of types of equipment ranging from cement mixers to power tools. These assets move back and forth (simultaneously and sporadically) from a main warehouse to multiple job sites when needed by crews or workers. Even if several workers attempt to create a paper trail to track these asset activities, the documentation would be scattered about. Thus, the scope of each worker’s asset tracking information and the cohesiveness of the overall documentation is limited. Furthermore, collecting the information in paper-form would make it difficult to share at a moment’s notice.

In response to these challenges, Passport has given users the ability to check out or loan equipment to workers, track time of use, as well as view all information in real-time. Construction managers can also generate reports on the asset activity data they desire and send them out instantly via email or SMS text messages. To boot, some equipment may be under repair or require maintenance. For that reason, systems such as Passport also track scheduled maintenance activities so that the equipment that companies have invested in remains in working condition for as long as possible.

Inventory System for Construction

Today’s successful construction project managers require instant access to inventory information in order to make educated, on-the-fly decisions while on or off a job site. It is essential that materials are available at the right place, at the right time, and at the quantity desired. Time-honored methods of manually tracking inventory no longer get the job done— they’re labor intensive, inaccurate and susceptible to errors that lead to schedule delays, supply shortages, and an overall decrease in productivity. It is mind-blowing that something that accounts for more than half of total project costs is not being optimally managed. Ergo, inventory tracking systems such as Passport, fill a significant (and somehow underappreciated) need.

It is a system that allows you to view stock inventory levels and locations in real-time so project managers maintain visibility of all inventory activity. The data can also be purposefully organized so it can be referenced for mandated audits or site inspections. Bulk supplies such as nails, caulking, building paper, and concrete can be tracked by quantity, serial number, or weight, depending on what is the most practical for the type of material and project. The beauty of the system is that the information is pertinent and reliable, and the features are configurable to fit the needs of different projects.

Barcode System Hardware for Construction

The most effective hardware to use for tracking construction equipment and materials are barcode labels and barcode scanners. The reasons being: mobility and durability. Barcode scanners, also known as mobile barcode computers, can be corded or wireless and are made to withstand rigorous use at construction sites. Some can withstand a 6-foot drop to concrete and up to 2,000 consecutive tumbles. Barcode labels are just as durable, yet also pliable and permanently adhesive so they can be applied to varying types of equipment and can endure extreme conditions. In addition, the labels can be customized and pre-made out of materials such as polypropylene, polyester, and aluminum depending on what is being tracked. Using this hardware provides project managers with the mobility needed to conduct physical inventory at multiple locations and the reassurance of accurate data collection.

The combination of robust software with formidable hardware makes inventory and asset tracking systems the ultimate solution for construction companies looking to advance their operations. Although the systems do not include GPS, or prevent theft, they do provide an immediate return on investment, seen through cost and time savings, and an increase in company-wide accountability.

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